“Wanted: Someone to walk with me”. This want ad appeared in a Ohio newspaper a few years ago. When I read it, I assumed it was a joke, and I made an inquiry. What I found was an old person wanting someone to take him for a walk—not because he needed physical help, but because he was afraid.
Because of news reports of abuse, such fear has grown more common among the elderly. Many older people are afraid of the younger generation, of dogs, and of things that go “bump” in the night. It is not my purpose here to document the many news reports telling of the abuse of the older generation by the younger. They are a matter of public record. My intent is to share the encouraging news that, in the future, this problem will be corrected.
A glance through Scripture reveals a society organized around the family unit. In the very first book of the Bible, we read, “And God said, “Let Us make man in Our own image” (Genesis 1:26). The “Us” in this verse indicates that more than one being constitutes God. In fact, in the very first verse of Genesis—where we read, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (v. 1)—the word translated as “God” is the Hebrew “Elohim” which indicates plurality.
Plainly, we are reading about a family system. “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them” (v. 27). Family is a consistent theme throughout Scripture. The Fifth Commandment tells us, “Honor your father and your mother: that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12).
When I was a boy, living on a farm, I knew that when I came home from school each day that my parents would be nearby. Sadly, today, for many young people this is not the case. Children often come home to an empty house or apartment. Simple family occasions like eating a meal together are a rarity for many busy families in which the husband and wife both work outside the home and the children are on their own separate schedules. It seems that many families today are held together by cell phones.
It is not my purpose to criticize; many families are doing the best they can in difficult circumstances in a society that does not support true biblical values. But what we see today is clearly not what God intended. Scripture makes clear that one key element that holds a society together is the young people’s respect for the elderly.
Consider: “Even to your age I am He; and even to gray hairs I will carry you; I have made, and I will bear: even I will carry, and deliver you” (Isaiah 46:4). The aged have a vital part in a biblically based society. “The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness” (Proverbs 16:31). Older people are to be respected not simply because of age, but because of the lifetime of godly character they have built as a vital example to the younger.
In the book of Zechariah, we find a prophecy describing what life will be like under the Millennial rule of Jesus Christ here on planet Earth. “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Old men and women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, and each one with his staff in his hand because of great age. The streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the street” (Zechariah 8:4–5).
Yes, old and young will mix together with mutual love and respect. Finally, the gulf will be bridged and there will be harmony among people of all ages. When that time comes, we will never again see in a newspaper, “Wanted…”